Definition and Establishment of Probation
Probation which is granted by a Judge is a sentence that allows the offender to live in the tribal community under the supervision of the Probation Officer/Community Justice Coordinator (WOTC 9.106 A.3; 9.106 D). This decision is made after careful study of the offender’s background, behavior, and potential for success. It is based on the philosophy that the rehabilitation of some offenders might be hampered by incarceration and will be supported and encouraged by supervised freedom.
Probation is a desirable disposition in appropriate cases because it maximizes the liberty of the offender while vindicating the authority of the law and protecting the tribal community from further violations. Probation can positively advance the rehabilitation of the offender by continuing normal community contacts such as employment, education, counseling, etc. It can minimize the impact of conviction upon innocent dependents of the offender. Probation voids the negative effects of incarceration which can severely complicate the offender’s reintegration into the tribal community.
Functions of the Probation/Community Justice Officer
Probation/Community Justice Officers have a dual responsibility of protecting the community and promoting the rehabilitation of offenders. One of the primary functions of the probation office is to supervise probationers to ensure that they comply with the terms and conditions of the court’s order. When an individual is released prior to a sentencing or disposition hearing, the Probation Officer monitors any pre-trial release conditions that may have been set by the Court. The type and degree of supervision will vary case by case and can be extremely limited through non-reporting, telephone reporting, or mail reporting status. The degree of supervision chosen will depend on the availability of resources, the caseload of the Probation Officer/Community Justice Coordinator, professional training, and the needs of the probationers.
The Tribal Court Probation Officer, under the general direction of the Chief Judge, Associate Judge, or Court administrator, conducts investigations and prepares informational reports in order to assist the presiding judge in determining appropriate sentences and dispositions of individuals brought before the Court. The Probation Officer shall supervise the probationer during the term of probation and may recommend relevant programs for rehabilitation.
The Probation Officer also acts as a case manager by referring probationers to qualified treatment personnel, vocational, or educational counselors, and other resources in the tribal community. The Probation Officer is a community resource manager with knowledge of agencies and resources available within the tribal community and surrounding non-native community. The Probation Officer may play the role of collectionagent for fines, costs, and other fees related to probation or other court cases.
On occasion, the Tribal Court Probation Officer will do a courtesy probation supervision of both tribal members and other natives living within the historic boundaries (Emmet, Charlevoix or Cheboygan counties) of the Tribe, at the request of the probationer. Individuals seeking courtesy supervision through the LTBB Probation Office should send a request in writing to the Probation Office that includes the foreign court name and case number along with the name of the current Probation Officer. The tribal Probation Officer will review the request and take the necessary steps in making arrangements with the foreign court probation office.
** A request from a probationer and acceptance from the Tribal Probation Officer for courtesy supervision does not guarantee that the request will be granted. It is also important to note that supervision from the LTBB Probation Office only means that the Tribal Probation Officer will monitor compliance with the foreign court order and then report compliance or non-compliance to the foreign court. The caseload of the Tribal Probation Officer allows for more intensive supervision than may be received from an overwhelmed foreign court. **